Part 2: Merida

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Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Part 2: First Things First


When we last left our heroine, she had limped into Merida with a seriously injured, feverish leg, less than half her wits about her due to fatigue, and no voice left due to dehydration. (Actually, she was in Caucel, a suburb of Merida). First thing is to heal.

Susan’s house & the park across the street.
Park Across the Street

When I arrived, Susan (the woman whom I was house-and dog-sitting for while she frolics in Panama, Chile, & Easter Island) took one look at my leg and lined up an appt for the following morning with her Doctora. She also decided that me climbing up and down stairs (with no railing at that) to my bedroom was not a good idea and reorganized her downstairs sewing room for me. Bless her.

Susan at the Salt Flats in Chile

I know we ate & talked until late that evening, but I really don’t remember much after taking a pain pill. I know I really liked her, I know my leg was up, and I know she kept putting ice packs on it. The next morning, the Dra. looked at my leg & meds list, cut my blood thinners by half for a couple weeks and added a heavy duty anti-inflammatory patch. Said no risk of new clots forming because of the blood thinner, but, instead, I wasn’t stopping bleeding & that’s why I had blood pooling in my feet and ankles. She put a really, really tight compression bandage on from toes to knees and gave orders for me to leave it on for 2 days, then rewrap it daily and to spend at least the next week with my leg in the air with ice packs. Between exhaustion, pain pills, and the patch, no prob. I just slept. It did the trick! By then, Susan was off, so at least I didn’t feel like I was being rude.

After 10 days of living off whatever Susan had left in the refrigerator, I was functioning enough to call Uber with plans to grab a danish and coffee, get a pedicure then go to the local supermarket to ride one of their electric carts. Google Maps said there was a bakery with a nail place next door close by, so I went. But it was one of the pastillerias that are everywhere. Only cakes. Fancy, fancy cakes of all sorts. This was far beyond the cake decorating counter at the grocery. That’s beginner stuff. This was fairy tale/wedding cake/high society level. They had a few pieces in single serving boxes, but not what I wanted. Apparently, Mexico takes its cakes seriously. But no coffee. Guess I need a panaderia instead. Or skip the sweet rolls while here!

Next door, the strangest/worst pedicure I’d ever had. I don’t think she had had any training and I’m lucky not to have picked up something off their tools. NOTHING was disposable or autoclaved or even washed. Armchair & a pan of cold water with a bit of dish soap. I’d never had a pedicure where they purposely cut away at my cuticles with scissors until they were bleeding! Then, no base coat, 1 coat of color, and no top coat. No prices posted and she charged me 300 pesos ($15.85) plus tip. I only pay $17 in Phx! I now know that is outrageously  high for the area. You can get a nice pedicure with manicure in a regular spa chair for 200 pesos. She saw la gringa coming.

Tacos at Viejo Molino

Since I still had not had any food or coffee for the day, I knew I needed something before the grocery store. The place next door looked good and was good. I had just enough cash left to get coffee and a taco plate (most restaurants do not take plastic). I liked it so much, I have been back several times!

Chadraui puts the Super Walmarts in Phoenix to shame. Not only all the usual, but they even sell motorcycles and tires inside the store! From the first, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

View down one aisle – chips, motorcycles, canopies, and clothing

Living in the SW US all my life, many of the Mexican brands were familiar to me, even if not the selection, and I was used to signs in Spanish everywhere, but there were noticeable differences.

  • They had a giant produce section. It was so funny to buy peaches and see an ‘Imported from the USA’ label on them! A lot of things I had no idea if they were fruit or vegetable, even, but I grabbed some and figured I’d look them up after I got home.
  • All the coffee in the store was grown in Mexico. All. Government monopoly like the petrol stations?
  • There was NO cheddar, colby, or longhorn cheese. Closest I could come to a cheese with any zing was a small, imported tub of Blue cheese. No Havarti, either.
  • It has a huge area of baked goods. But the bakery items like rolls, muffins, cupcakes, etc were just out in the open on cookie sheets. Took me a bit to figure it out. There is one spot where you grab a pizza pan and tongs and go gather what you want. You then bring your pan to a counter where they ring it up and bag it. You pay for it at the main register.
  • I don’t remember seeing a freezer section. I was up & down every aisle, so don’t think I just missed it!
  • I wanted some cans of soda, but it was all in 1, 2, and 3 liter bottles. Finally I found a 6-pack of half sized cans of Ginger Ale. No other canned soda! You could get beer or mixed alcohol drinks in cans, but not soda.
  • Soft things like mayo, refried beans, ketchup, etc are in plastic bags with screw spouts. Weird.
  • You know how when you go to Walmart there are always unsupervised kids and even toddlers running around, playing with everything and yelling? None of that. The few kids I did see were quiet and under tight supervision. Even the toy aisles were immaculate.
  • Every bit of the store was divided up in small areas of about ½ or ⅓ of an aisle that had its own attendant. The attendant made sure you found what you wanted, kept the floor clean, and kept the displays looking nice. The minute you put something in your basket, they were there filling the gap. I have never seen so many employees! There was an over-abundance of guards, too. I guess with so many eyes it keeps shoplifting down, but their payroll must be enormous!
  • Checkout got confusing. I needed to pay with my credit card since I had not been to the ATM yet, but they wanted my ID. I had had to leave it with the guard so I could check out a scooter. Finally they understood what I was trying to tell them & the guard came over and returned my ID. Someone had not thought this thru. They all acted like it was a first.
Gabriel, my personal driver/translator/haggler/tour guide
Gabriel, my personal driver/translator/haggler/tour guide

Uber is really going strong here. I have hardly seen any taxis, but when I open my Uber app, it shows lots of drivers very close. So weird looking at my account, tho; almost all the fares are under $2. One of the first drivers I really hit it off with. Since then, I call Gabriel first. He’s working on his English at the same time I’m working on my Spanish. We correct each other’s pronunciation and we both have translation programs on our phones that we resort to often.We agreed that he’d just charge me a flat fee each time instead of on the meter. As my stay has gone on, he comes in with me many places to translate, help carry, or keep me from getting lost. I’ve bought him lunch and dinner and we laugh a lot together. When he brings me to a cenote to swim before I leave, he’ll bring his wife, too.

The dogs are very good and get along well. Mellie is a collie mix and Patches is (I’m guessing) a pit bull mix. Both rescues. Susan had had Mellie for awhile before Patch joined her, so she’s a bit jealous of the attention Mellie gets. I have to be sure to pet them both at the same time or the other butts in. Patches was being scolded by Susan, so she came over & heavily leaned on me like “Save me”. No dummy there! They have a nice big yard to run in and wrestle together even in the house.

Phoenix monsoon season “Chance of showers”

There’s been rain almost every day. It’s humid, but no more so than Phoenix during Monsoon and only around mid-upper 90s, where Phx will be in the 100s with the same humidity. I can handle it. Most rooms have an AC and ceiling fans, which are plenty.

What I haven’t been able to handle is the mosquitos, at least the second week. Once the bandages came off, I had the audacity to go out on the patio to do laundry. What I didn’t know was that Merida was in the middle of an unusual “plague of mosquitos” as the newspapers put it. They ate me alive, despite the mosquito bracelets I put on ankles and wrists. They actually sat on the bands & bent over to bite me! It was so bad, Susan heard about it in Chile! The city sprayed everywhere and I broke down and bought some Off. I just don’t go out there at dawn or dusk to be safe.

All in all, I’ve spend the first half of this leg just sleeping, reading, lounging, and watching my Netflix. Just like I planned. And dealing with 3 bouts of Turista that I had not planned for. I finally feel like I can get out and see something!

Next: Part 3: Exploring the Merida Area


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